Tag Archives: film music

Soundtrack Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

The soundtrack for John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum, is now available for purchase from Varèse Sarabande. In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, skilled assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn. The score for this film was once again composed by Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Atomic Blonde), who to date has worked on every film in the John Wick series.

Regarding John Wick: Chapter 3, Bates had this to say:

“While his fight, stunt, and weapon work is second to none, Chad [Stahelski] embraces original music with equal passion – setting the table for Joel Richard and I to experiment and create a distinct “sound” for the John Wick world. Five years ago, we cranked “Killing Strangers” at concert volume in my studio. And now John Wick is a trilogy. Working with Chad has been a truly amazing experience.”

Having now seen all three John Wick films, I have to agree that the music for these films are very distinct indeed. One thing I like about John Wick: Chapter 3 and the series overall is that the music sounds the same across all three installments. As soon as you hear the first beat of music, you know you’ve come back to the world of assassins and John Wick. I’ve never quite been able to define the nature of the music in firm words, but the words that come to mind the most often are “techno-futuristic.” The music Bates creates weaves into the background and fight scenes almost seamlessly, creating this edgy, near-futuristic world that’s inhabited by Wick and a seemingly endless legion of assassins.

There’s some nice twists in this score also. “The Adjudicator” has an almost militaristic sound (fitting given the role she plays in the film) while “Elder Tent Offering,” quite ironically given what happens in that scene, has some of the most lyrical music in the score. But I think one of my favorites is “Winter at the Continental,” which is essentially a techno-remix of Vivaldi’s “Winter.” I remember hearing “Winter” played straight before the fight began, but I either didn’t realize or didn’t remember that there was also this fast-paced remix, which is really fun to listen to, since Bates takes Vivaldi and “modernizes” it for Wick’s world.

I really like the music Bates has created for John Wick: Chapter 3. It’s edgy, it’s fast-paced, but it also slows down when necessary, and it fits the film’s world perfectly. I love how Bates can insert slow moments out of nowhere, it’s easy to forget about them since most of the film is devoted to fights, but the slow moments are just as beautiful.

Let me know what you think about the music for John Wick: Chapter 3 in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: John Wick: Chapter 3 (2019)

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Advertisements

Soundtrack Review: Brightburn (2019)

*Note: potentially minor spoilers from some of the track titles

The soundtrack for the upcoming film Brightburn with music by multi-award winning composer Timothy Williams (Wild Horses, Debug, Walking with the Enemy).  became available May 10th. The soundtrack features music from the James Gunn and Kenneth Huang-produced film, which makes its theatrical debut in the United States on Friday, May 24. The film is based on a terrifying premise: What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to humankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? In this horrific take on the classic superhero trope, a couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) adopts a baby who came from the stars. While they attempt to raise the boy (Jackson A. Dunn) to use his powers for good, an evil begins to grow inside that he unleashes.

Regarding the soundtrack for Brightburn, Timothy Williams had the following to say:

“Being able to merge two genres which have never been combined before, superhero and horror, was an amazing experience.  I was thankful for a close collaborative relationship with the director Dave Yarovesky.  We worked on the idea of a main theme at the beginning that would be simple and reflect the emotional investment of hope in the story.  You hear this in a three note piano solo theme.  As Brandon’s power increases, we begin to feel the weight and power of a large orchestra which then bends and distorts with Brandon’s descent into evil.  The low strings and low brass mutate the theme and processed percussion pumps up the tension.  Because Brandon is this kid from another world, I got to develop some unique sounds using a bespoke library for the ROLI which bends and pitches sound as well.  Overall it was a dream come true to create this sound for a new genre film.”

 

While Brightburn is described as a merging of the superhero and horror genres, make no mistake about it, most of the music is firmly entrenched in the horror genre. I love how Timothy Williams works with all of these unique sounds to create uncomfortable sensations that make your skin crawl. Some of the tracks will start “normal” but then twist and warp, likely symbolizing Brandon being slowly corrupted by whatever evil dwells inside him. I appreciate how varied the tracks in this soundtrack are. There are some moments that sound very bright (“Breyer Family” is one such example) while others like “Real Real Bad Things” and especially “Called to the Barn” are very, very dark.

As I listened to the Brightburn soundtrack, I was surprised to hear some passages that sounded reminiscent of the work of James Horner, particularly his score for Aliens. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it’s fairly common for composers to be inspired by earlier films, and this could be what happened here. And it makes sense too; Aliens sees the characters encountering a mysterious, undoubtedly evil presence (the xenomorphs and the Alien Queen). And Brightburn, from what I can tell, has a similar scenario. The residents of Brightburn encounter a growing evil in their midst.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to the Brightburn soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly music written for a horror film, but there are enough nuances thrown into the music that I enjoy listening to it. Timothy Williams does a great job using different musical textures to create themes that will make your skin crawl in the best way possible. Definitely check out the soundtrack when you get the chance, and make sure to see the film when it comes out this Friday. Afterward, let me know what you think of the film (and its score) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: A Simple Favor (2018)

A Simple Favor premiered in theaters in September of 2018. Based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Darcey Bell, the film centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. The soundtrack for this mystery thriller was composed by Theodore Shapiro.

Regarding the soundtrack for A Simple Favor, Shapiro had this to say:

The first thing that was really interesting about working on A Simple Favor was finding the tone of it. It was unusual and very tricky because it’s a mystery and a thriller, but also genuinely funny at the same time. This was an instance in which the music had to match the tone of the film precisely…It couldn’t feel satirical or feel like we were goofing on a genre at all. It had to feel perfectly in sync. (credit to Pop Disciple for this interview excerpt)

Listening to the soundtrack, the first thing that jumped out to me is how symphonic this soundtrack is, surely a result of Shapiro’s classical training as a musician and composer. In the film’s title cue “A Simple Favor,” Shapiro introduces a distinctive motif played on a metallophone that recurs in multiple tracks throughout the score. This is by far one of the most traditional soundtracks I’ve listened to. With the recurring motif, it reminded me of the soundtracks you find in more “classic” films, but that’s not a bad thing at all. For all that I love “modern” film scores that are minimalist, electronic, or a blend of styles, I also will always love scores that hearken back to a bygone era of film.

 

Another thing that sticks out about Shapiro’s score is its resemblance to the music you hear in Hitchcock films. One summary I’ve read describes A Simple Favor as “Hitchcockian” and you can definitely hear the similarities to the “Master of Suspense” in this soundtrack. When the music isn’t playing like a symphony, it’s dripping with suspense in all the right ways. The strings hold out notes and set up tension in a way where at times I can almost visualize what’s going on (and that’s a good sign for a film score).

I admit I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to this score. Theodore Shapiro crafted a soundtrack that is truly a delight for the ears and I might need to check this film out in the future, just to hear this music in context. Let me know what you think about A Simple Favor (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Hellboy (2019)

The soundtrack for the reboot of Hellboy released on April 5th. The soundtrack was put together by the award winning composer Benjamin Wallfisch (previous scores include It, Blade Runner 2049, and Hidden Figures). Like the original Hellboy films, this reboot is based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name.

Of the soundtrack for Hellboy, Benjamin Wallfisch had this to say:

“I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Sony Music on the release of the Hellboy soundtrack album. Mike Mignola, Neil Marshall and the entire creative team have created an incredible next chapter in this iconic franchise, one that demanded a completely new approach to the score. Sony Music couldn’t be a better partner to bring this music to a wide audience and I’m grateful to them, Lionsgate and Millennium Media.”

Having listened to the Hellboy soundtrack, I found myself impressed with the variety of sonic colors Wallfisch brought to the score. There is a healthy amount of orchestral music mixed in with beats that come straight out of a rock album (and that’s not a bad thing given what I know of Hellboy). But the tracks that interested me the most have a mystical, semi-Eastern quality to them that draws me in the more I listen to them.

Two of my favorite tracks that I recommend checking out from the Hellboy soundtrack are “Psychic Migraine” and “Baba Yaga.” The latter in particular had a sound quality that felt very Goldsmithian to me (i.e. Jerry Goldsmith). It almost reminds me of a section of the score from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which is also not a bad thing). The way the strings twist and turn, it’s effective at raising the hair on the back of my neck.

The score isn’t perfect by any means. Some of the action tracks are either too “Zimmer like” (too bombastic for my taste) or too generic to me truly memorable. But the tracks that ARE good, are really good. And so for the sake of those tracks, I recommend checking the Hellboy soundtrack out.

Let me know what you think of the Hellboy soundtrack (and the film) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

POKÉMON Detective Pikachu stars Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, the iconic face of the global Pokémon phenomenon—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and one of the most successful media franchises of all time.  Also starring are Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, and Rita Ora, with Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy.  Fans everywhere can now experience a Pokémon on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other.  The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon, each with its own unique traits and personality.

The score for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was composed by Henry Jackman, whose scoring credits include Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: First Class, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Kong: Skull Island among others. The score, which released on Friday, May 3rd, is absolutely beautiful. Jackman employs a variety of strings and other instruments throughout the score. However, what really puts this score over the top is Jackman’s decision to mix in synthesizer music with the orchestral score. And by synthesizer, I mean think of the music you heard in the original Pokémon games, that synthesized “doop-doop” that is instantly recognizable. A number of the tracks slide in and out of this synthesized music, and it helps bring the Pokémon world to life.

Regarding the soundtrack, Jackman had this to say:

Writing the music for POKÉMON Detective Pikachu was immense fun.  The movie itself was a unique invitation to create a new musical world representing all the wonderful and colorful characters of the Pokémon  universe.  I really enjoyed using many different sonic colors so, if you listen carefully, you can hear everything from the full symphony orchestra to analog vintage synths.  I was also very happy to be working again with Rob Letterman, who even tried to get his beloved 808 Drum Machine into the score, until we found it was fatally damaged.  To have been selected to write music for such a well-loved and precious franchise is a great honor, and I greatly hope my best efforts contribute positively to the Pokémon experience.

If the film is as great as Jackman’s score, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu could easily be one of the best films of the first half of 2019. Even without seeing the film, the music is a joy to listen to. Jackman covers an entire emotional range, from light and humorous to dark and melodramatic. If the film has any failings, it will not come from the music.

As the Pokémon: Detective Pikachu soundtrack is available now, listen to it when you get the chance and let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Robin Hood “Love” (1973)

Robinhood427.jpg

There are few love stories I enjoy more than the one between Robin Hood and Maid Marian, no matter which iteration of the story I’m watching. The Disney version is no different, with Marian revealing that she and Robin were childhood sweethearts. Both initially believe that a relationship is impossible, since they haven’t seen each other in years (not to mention the slightly important detail that Robin is an outlaw). However, despite their denials, the moment they see each other at the archery tournament, all their feelings come rushing back and Robin ends up proposing marriage (which Marian happily accepts).

 

After the chaos following the tournament, Robin and Marian wander the woods together, and this is the setting for “Love.” Unlike some Disney love songs, neither character actually sings. Rather, like “So This is Love” from Cinderella, the song is taking place inside the character’s thoughts (presumably Maid Marian’s since it’s a female singer).

Love
It seems like only yesterday
You were just a child at play
Now you’re all grown up inside of me
Oh, how fast those moments flee

Once we watched a lazy world go by
Now the days seem to fly
Life is brief, but when it’s gone
Love goes on and on

Love will live
Love will last
Love goes on and on and on

Once we watched a lazy world go by
Now the days seem to fly
Life is brief, but when it’s gone
Love goes on and on

It almost feels like an unusual sentiment for a love song. Instead of talking about how Robin and Marian are going to run away together, or how happy they’ll be together, “Love” talks about how love will remain even after people are gone. It’s a beautiful song, and one I like to sing to myself sometimes. It’s also a nice change after the madness of the archery tournament. This song was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (though it didn’t win). One detail I really like about this scene are the glowing fireflies that flit around in the background (though I’d never heard of fireflies being pink before, but this is Disney we’re talking about). I hope you enjoyed learning a little about “Love.”

Let me know what you think about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Robin Hood “Oo-De-Lally” (1973)

Robin Hood “The Phony King of England” (1973)

Robin Hood “Not in Nottingham” (1973)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Robin Hood “Oo-De-Lally” (1973)

Robinhood018

If you haven’t seen Disney’s 1973 take on the legend of Robin Hood then you are missing out. In a world where Robin is a cunning fox and Prince John is a sniveling lion, this story is full of comedy, drama, and it’s fair share of good songs. Robin Hood is partially narrated by a rooster minstrel named Alan-a-Dale (Roger Miller). After the opening credits, Alan-a-Dale begins the story by introducing us to Robin Hood (a fox) and Little John (a bear) as they’re walking through Sherwood Forest, unwittingly being tracked by the Sheriff of Nottingham (a wolf) and his henchmen. “Oo-De-Lally” is a ballad that narrates the action (the characters don’t begin talking until it’s over).

Robin Hood and Little John
Walking through the forest
Laughing back and forth
At what the other one has to say

Reminiscing this and that
And having such a good time
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

Never ever thinking there was danger in the water
They were drinking, they just guzzled it down
Never dreaming that a scheming Sheriff and his posse
Was a-watching them and gathering around

Robin Hood and Little John
Running through the forest
Jumping fences, dodging trees
And trying to get away

Contemplating nothing
But escape and finally making it
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

This song quickly establishes that Robin and Little John can easily outsmart their enemies, both finding it fun to give them the slip. We’re also given a classic Robin Hood moment…sort of. In the old Robin Hood stories, most will include an account of how Robin and Little John first met while each was trying to cross a log bridge from their respective side. During “Oo-De-Lally,” the pair try to cross a similar bridge only to accidentally knock one another into the water (in the original story they have a fight first).

“Oo-De-Lally” is a fun introduction to Robin Hood and just the first of many great songs in this underrated Disney film. Let me know what you think about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Robin Hood “Love” (1973)

Robin Hood “The Phony King of England” (1973)

Robin Hood “Not in Nottingham” (1973)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂